A new pair of shoes got me re-evaluating my whole life today.
The shoes arrived a few days ago, tantalizingly packaged in a black and white box. I recognize the black and white design of my new shoes matching the box was coincidental, but I appreciated this synergy as I unboxed my new kicks. I haven’t purchased new sneakers in quite a few years, so my excitement level ratcheted toward high.
I wore them around the house during my regular quarantine activities – washing dishes, doing various chores, pacing (because that’s exercising, right?), working at my desk, watching tv, snacking. The shoes were not uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t say they felt good. When you imagine a comfy pair of shoes that feel like walking on a memory foam mattress topped with cotton candy, these were not they. But I wore them all day with no discomfort, no rubbing, no blisters, no slipping, nor any of the other qualities I find abhorrent in shoes. I do not believe in a breaking-in period. I need shoes to fit comfortably right out of the box, or back they go. Today, however, I took them for a test walk in the park. It was not a test “run,” as I only move faster than a brisk walk in emergency situations.
The advertisement touted the shoes allowed your feet to respond to the ground, that wearing these shoes offers the benefits of being barefoot with the protective features of a shoe. I noticed nothing special as I puttered around my house, but I immediately observed a difference when I stepped outside and onto the sidewalk. Apparently hardwood, tile, and carpet give more than concrete; I suffered the solidity of the sidewalk as I never had experienced before while wearing shoes. It didn’t feel uncomfortable, just new. I pondered this newness as I followed the sidewalk down to the corner, where I had to cross the street to enter the park. It surprised me to discern more flexibility from the street than I had from the sidewalk. What I experienced when I stepped on the blacktop park path, however, shocked me.
The blacktop offered unforgiving resistance. Walking on it hurt. It didn’t hurt because the shoes felt uncomfortable. It hurt because my entire body reacted to the jarring surface with each step. The shoe company lauded its shoes allow your feet to respond to the ground by flexing and gripping, which allows your joints and body to absorb and disperse energy. I could feel my feet and body trying to do their jobs, but the blacktop wouldn’t allow them to do their work. I typically avoid walking through grass if I find a nearby pathway, but I didn’t today. I probably spent a third of my morning walk in the grass.
Walking in the grass felt glorious. My toes flexed, spread, and gripped as I traversed the terrain. My body responded in kind. I experienced an unaccustomed balance and alignment. I recognized my body working and responding differently, efficiently. When I returned to the blacktop pathway, I noticed in ways I didn’t realize I could. Near the end of my walk, I followed a mulch pathway. That’s when I began rethinking my whole life.
As I walked, I pondered why humans ever began ripping out earth and replacing it with concrete, but I understood the need for pathways. When I stepped on the mulch pathway, I wondered why more pathways aren’t mulched. While I could sense the bits of mulch through the soles of my shoes, I also experienced the soft ground and the variations in the terrain. I had found my memory foam, cotton candy experience.
By the time I returned home, I wanted to rip out the sidewalk to nowhere that bisects my backyard and replace it with a mulch path leading to the garden I plan to plant. I also had ideas for the school I want to start. Instead of sidewalks, mulch pathways will crisscross campus. I thought about the ladies who love to wear their high heels and how difficult it is to walk through mulch in them. Toward them I thought, “I know your heels are sexy, but they’re not good for you, boo. Walk around in sensible shoes and stow your stilettos in your backpack for when you need style.”
Now I understand standard shoe design protects your body from the hard surfaces of modern living, not just your feet. And I question modern living all the more.
Instead of writing all of this in my journal, I shared it with you. This tale of discovery hits nearly all the suggestions I have for what to write as you stare down the blank page or blinking cursor of your journal.
- Write about your events of the day.
- Write your thoughts, emotions, reactions, and intuitions of the day.
- Write your problems.
- Write why you’re grateful.
- Write how you want to progress on your goal for the next day (I wrote about long-term goals, instead.).
- Write whatever you want to.
- Write your prayers. When they’re answered, write that, too (I didn’t hit this one.).
- Write what you need in the moment.
- Write to remember.
Journaling can seem overwhelming at times and frivolous at others. As educators, however, giving yourself moments to reflect on how you experienced your day will revive your stores of energy for the next.
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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.
Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator. She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services. Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.